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Tax Day: What Are the Feds Doing with Your Money?

Individuals in the U.S. pay about five times more in taxes than corporations. (National Priorities Project)
Individuals in the U.S. pay about five times more in taxes than corporations. (National Priorities Project)
April 16, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. – Whether you owe the IRS or it owes you, Tax Day is an annual reminder of how much money Americans give the federal government each year.

A new report shows exactly where that money is being spent. The National Priorities Project crunched the numbers on 2017 federal spending, and found 29 cents of every dollar went to the Medicaid and Medicare programs. That's followed by 23 cents for the military, 11 cents of which pays for private contractors.

Program director Lindsay Koshgarian says it's also important to note that individuals are paying five times more in taxes than corporations.

"Individuals are really the ones funding the federal government," she says. "And then, when you look and see that so much of the money that we're paying taxes for goes to private contractors, it's a bit disturbing to see what extent our tax dollars and our tax system are really holding up private corporations."

The report shows 14 cents of every tax dollar goes to pay interest on the federal debt, seven cents to unemployment and labor, six cents on veterans, and four cents each for education, and food and agriculture. The remainder of the federal tax dollar is divvied up between government, housing, energy, international affairs and transportation.

Koshgarian adds an even larger portion of the federal tax dollar will go toward military spending in 2018.

"We have now the biggest military budget that we've had at any time - bigger than under Ronald Reagan, bigger than during the Vietnam War, even," she notes. "So, there is a huge increase in military spending underway, and we see that in 2017 and we're going to see it even more in 2018."

Koshgarian contends the annual analysis is important because it allows Americans to see if the ways federal dollars are spent are in line with their own priorities. And she believes many will be surprised.

"When we look at what Americans say their top priorities for the federal government are, they certainly do say things like health care and national security," she explains. "Education, and jobs and the economy are right up there, but they're not 'right up there' when we look at how much we're actually spending."

The National Priorities Project has an interactive tool that allows people to see an individual breakdown of their own tax receipt for 2017. It's online at

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE